Do something new on a regular, even daily basis. An example of how simple this could be was early on in Covid, my daughter and I created a fancy dinner at home one night a week. We’d bring our the candles, fine food and clothes. I figured if we couldn’t go out, that didn’t mean we couldn’t feel like we are dining out throughout the world.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Ivkosic.

Ana Ivkosic is the CEO and Founder of two amazing health and wellness-focused companies, Wattle Cafe and Jolli Having enjoyed a 20-year career in Institutional Banking which took her from Sydney, London, and then finally New York, she decided it was time to pivot in a way that drew on her primary life passion, wellness and authenticity. Ana has been a highly active person but after becoming a mother she wanted to create healthy food options both for her family and others. After becoming a Health Coach, in 2017 the first Wattle Cafe was opened and in 2021 she created Jolli.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I am an Australian living in NYC and working to make each day count. After a long banking career eventually brought me to Manhattan, I saw that the foods I had grown up with were not so readily available here, so I decided to create something that aligned with me and I felt was missing from the market. As someone who has spent most of her life being healthy, this felt a natural extension of my life and more authentic to who I am. I also wanted to make sure I walked the walk and was the best type of role model for my family.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I always love to see the look on peoples faces when I am pouring their coffee and mention I was a banker and worked throughout the world with that career. It often amazes people that someone would make such a material career pivot later in life. I like to share this story as it shows to people that anything is possible. It’s definitely not easy but honestly there are challenges in many things we embark on in life. When asked why, I always bring it back to how finite life is and that we only get one try. For me it is about making each day count and sharing my story can be a small reminder to someone else of what is possible.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It is the mission of Wattle Cafe to nurture through food. We take inspiration of the healthy eating habits Australia is known for, so all the food we make is scratch made and from simple, healthy, whole ingredients. Eating well is so important but in addition to our food, Wattle Cafe is also about the memories you create and the shared experience. Each of our stores is designed with a beautiful seating area in which guests can order, share their food with friends and spend some time there. In places like Manhattan these spaces almost act as an extension of a persons home and we like to encourage that. Our guests are so important to us and making them feel welcome and part of our tribe is a core aspect of who and what Wattle Cafe is about. If you go back to the old snow days, those were the days Wattle stores would be busiest as people would gravitate to somewhere warm but also less isolated than their apartments.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

In my case my parents have both been supportive throughout my life. They always reflected on the opportunities I had growing up which were far more than what they had growing up thus giving me a sense of gratitude. There was a specific moment in which my mum did give me a proverbial kick at a time when i needed it most. I had gotten the call from my, then banking employer, that I was no longer employed. Following that call, I had called my mum in tears and her response was “about time”. I was shocked, but after a moment I realised she was right. I had been unhappy with where my career was headed and how I would continue to fulfil this role concurrently with being a new mum and knew i needed to make a change. That call was the juncture at which I started to explore where my new future would take me. It was the nudge I needed which reminded me that I had in many ways been asking the universe for a change, i just hadn’t realised at the time I was willing in a change in my life. I am forever grateful to my mum for her response.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

For me resilience is about getting up. All of us have been knocked down and will be knocked down again in life but it’s about who gets up. The person who gets up the most to my mind is showing their resilient. When you watch a child learn to walk you have front row seats to resilience. A child will fall and simply get up and try again and keep going until they walk. I was lucky to have a young toddler at the same time as Wattle Cafe had opened so in many ways we were learning alongside each other.

So much of what needed to be done in the early days of Wattle Cafe did feel overwhelming but when I was able to break things down into less daunting pieces I was able to keep moving forward. I believe having a strong ‘why’ helps cultivate resilience. Clarity in where you are headed and a sense of purpose also helps to ensure that you are focused on a point far beyond where you currently are. So often in business you are able to get caught up with the noise of now and forget that there is a bigger journey you have embarked on. Remembering helped me give less energy to the smaller mishaps we faced.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

For me courage is about facing your fear and still moving forward while resilience is about having to deal with something that has eventuated. Both are incredibly important in building a business but also in life. I feel courage is what you need first and resilience is what supports the courageous decisions you make.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Honestly myself. I think as a society we need to start to applaud ourselves when we do, do things that are worthy of praise. I am a single mum by choice, living in a foreign country, having spent two years cut off from my family who are mainly abroad, running two businesses during arguably one of the most challenging periods in modern memory. I feel I’ve ticked a few resiliency boxes and am not boastful but do feel I should acknowledge myself.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

When I left my banking career, in many ways it was easier to start a new career in another country where no body knew me but more so in Manhattan where it is so normal to make such a hard pivot. The first year of my new career was a constant banter with former colleagues and associates asking when I would go back to my banking career. Each question would also include the reminder of how insane my choice was and how it wouldn’t work. After a few such conversations, i mentally reminded myself that every time someone would challenge me it was merely a reminder that I was exactly on the road I needed to be on. Their negativity helped motivate me in many ways.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

By the 3rd year of Wattle Cafe we had started to hit our stride and had expanded into a few more locations with the support of another business who was also our landlord in the new stores. Long story short, the landlord stole the money we had been paying toward rent. The impact of this was so devastating it could have shut us down completely. Personally I was broken and couldn’t believe this was happening. I am eternally grateful i had a tremendous team and was able to regroup and move on. For me the biggest lesson was understanding that there are cases where you can do the best due diligence but there will always be an X factor that you can’t account for. Instead, you need to go over this experience, learn from it so that you don’t have to have that same experience again. I learned so many valuable things through this experience. Not all things I wanted to learn but in many ways I had a brutal life lesson early in the business which has made me much more vigilant ever since. This experience also helped me reposition the brand, be more clear around our mission and this clarity has seen new landlords approach us to move into incredible spaces.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I often reflect on the resilience of my parents. They were migrants and moved to Australia young. They had no immediate family in Australia, so had to figure out how to raise three children without the support that can come from an extended family. As the eldest child, I watched them toil and balance working while being present for us. We never had baby sitters as they somehow figured the juggle out all the while both working full time jobs. It’s only as an adult that I appreciate there would have been incredible stress in their lives, which we never witnessed. My memories of growing up were happy and fun so I realise how resilient they must have been to create such an environment within a world where they had so many hurdles themselves to deal with.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Do something new on a regular, even daily basis. An example of how simple this could be was early on in Covid, my daughter and I created a fancy dinner at home one night a week. We’d bring our the candles, fine food and clothes. I figured if we couldn’t go out, that didn’t mean we couldn’t feel like we are dining out throughout the world.

Push your boundaries. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes and in fact its so exhilarating when you come out the other end and realise you did it. That’s how I felt when I first began taking cold showers. I can’t believe it took me so long to start.

Be grateful for your fear but remember it is there to have you pause and assess a situation. I don’t believe fear is meant to stop you or have you not follow through with a goal or plan. Every time I open a new store, i get nervous about the decision. I always reflect on the planning I have conducted and know in my gut that the decision has merit but caution is also part of my DNA and I have learned to work with it.

Don’t wait too long to get up after a fall. Try to keep your head out of it or intellectualise why staying down makes the most sense. Getting up always allows you the option to walk away if something isn’t working but you will still have momentum (by getting up) even if that means changing course.

Remember it’s not personal. Every set back we have faced has been something of a shared experience. I know peers who have had similar experiences along their journey so in many ways these are hurdles which we each need to encounter to continue to improve and get stronger or better.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I simply want people to appreciate that we only get one attempt at this life. We all have the same amount of hours in a day and what we do with our time is controlled by us. Equally what we eat and how we treat our bodies is also controlled by us so the decisions we make are important. It is my wish for us all to the live our best and most prosperous lives. As my brands are all about health and wellness, it is my focus in life to make sure that we create food and products that nurture. I know from my own life how amazing healthy food makes me and my family feel so being able to share that is a blessing. For people who don’t have access to a Wattle Cafe, I urge them to find ways in which they can make small steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Take time to prepare their own meals, look to buy more fresh food but most importantly try to make sugars and processed foods out of their diets. Not only do we not need sugar, it is so detrimental to our health.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Marcus Lemonis @marcuslemonis as I love watching his work and how he has transformed so many small businesses. I’m inspired watching what he can achieve but more so his passion in helping small businesses. He understands the enormous value that sector brings to the economy.

Jesse Itzler @jesseitzler for his absolute passion in life and health. He is not afraid to call out the big food manufacturers for their lies and claims around food which I admire and aspire to being able to have a platform to do.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.